I haven’t written any posts about classic science fiction stories I have read, or currently reading in a very long time, so I think it’s time to do that.
Besides, I’m tired of posting about all the weirdness that’s been going on around us on a daily basis now. It’s mentally exhausting and I don’t know how some bloggers are able to keep up with it, especially folks who do this for a living!
Maybe there is a Singularity coming!
One of the classics I read was Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men, an epic that took me one whole summer to ingest.
And let me tell you, it was an undertaking! Stapledon’s style of narrative is just that, narration! First person in the highest order!
It encompasses the 2 billion year histories of the various Mankinds that pop up, either through natural evolution, or genetic engineering. He keeps the theme of Humanity rolling along quite handily, sometimes with epochs in between which there is nothing sentient on Earth at all, often with geologic changes affecting the planet’s climate.
The one thing modernists could find fault with, during the time in which Stapledon was writing this novel (and later Star Maker) was that theories of evolution tended toward the natural order of life here on Earth, and in the Cosmos, would be toward Intelligence as the pinnacle. Thus, the many species of Mankind that spring up naturally on Earth Stapledon writes about.
Current theories suggest that intelligence isn’t the height of lifeforms developing on planets, here or abroad.
In fact, some would say intelligence is undesirable!
Personally, I don’t find that a flaw in the book. I enjoyed the concept that the Universe tends toward intelligence!
It gives a person hope that the Cosmos is trying to find out about itself!
In closing, one does find that some things are dated, such as Venus being almost Earth-like and Neptune having a solid surface (like dirt), but other concepts like telepathy and remote sensing other worlds in the Galaxy are still fresh, in their own way. So taken as a whole, although Stapledon’s first person drone might be a little tiring, the epic is like all epics, epic!
Okay, this review is actually a repost about a story I was writing about in 2007, The Saga of Cuckoo;
Wow, almost exactly two years ago to the day! Talk about syncronicity!
Anyway, I’m finally getting around to re-read it and so far it takes me back to a simpler time. In fact, many of the concepts we have today in quantum physics and the concept of small, self-replicating interstellar space probes have precursors in this tale.
And I can actually understand them too!
Anyway, if you’re a fan of 1970s sci-fi like I am, check-out the Saga of Cuckoo. Good stuff!